Islamabad, June 5 (IANS) Nawaz Sharif, who has spent nearly 14 years in political wilderness, is all set to become Pakistan's prime minister for the third time Wednesday.
Sharif, 63, led his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to a comfortable victory in the bitterly contested May 11 elections. On Wednesday, the National Assembly will elect its leader of the house.
According to Dawn, Sharif's election is a foregone conclusion because of the numbers that the PML-N enjoys in the 342 member house. He is likely to be sworn in Wednesday itself.
He faces a challenge from Pakistan Peoples Party's Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Makhdoom Javed Hashmi.
Hashmi told reporters after submitting his papers that his party would play the role of a constructive opposition.
PML-N nominees Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Murtaza Javed Abbasi were elected as the speaker and deputy speaker Monday, with both securing 258 votes.
With Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) offering unconditional support to Sharif, his victory tally is expected to be even higher Wednesday.
The process for the election of the prime minister began Tuesday with the submission of nomination papers.
Sharif's name was proposed by chief of Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party Mahmoud Khan Achakzai, an ally of the PML-N, and some party leaders.
Sharif, who started his political career in 1980, also served as Punjab's finance minister and later as chief minister.
He became prime minister for the first time in November 1990 in mid-term general elections held after the dissolution of the government led by late Benazir Bhutto. He was ousted by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1993, Dawn recalled.
When elections were held in 1997 after dissolution of the second PPP government by the then president Sardar Farooq Leghari, Sharif became prime minister for the second time.
It was during Sharif's second term in government that the country conducted nuclear tests in 1998, days after India had carried out its own.
Sharif was ousted in a bloodless military coup by then army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf Oct 12, 1999, after a day of dramatic events.
He was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment by court in April 2000 on two counts of hijacking and terrorism over the diversion of Musharraf's plane when it was low on fuel.
A deal was later negotiated and Sharif's sentence was commuted to exile in Saudi Arabia.
He returned to Pakistan in November 2007 and six years later is going to become prime minister again.